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Exploring the Emerging Role of Community Paramedicine

Posted by PCC Institute for Health Professionals on November 03, 2016

iStock_000078800081_Small.jpgAccording to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), 30% — $750 billion — of the annual U.S. healthcare budget is wasted on unnecessary services, excessive administrative costs, inefficient delivery of services, and prevention failures. To say that healthcare professionals and patients are frustrated would be an understatement. Fragmented care, barriers to patient access, ineffective management of chronic diseases, unnecessary use of Emergency Department visits and a lack of proper aftercare have all contributed to the fraying of the current healthcare system, leaving patients to fall through the cracks.

Community Paramedicine seeks to utilize Emergency Medical Services (EMS) resources, its infrastructure and other community providers to address these discontinuities in healthcare. Interest in Community Paramedicine is on the rise in an effort to increase access to quality healthcare while simultaneously reducing costs. This post will address community paramedicine and its mobile approach to offering alternative ways to manage non-emergent patient care.

Community Paramedicine

In an effort to improve access to healthcare — specifically for underserved populations — and improve outcomes, a healthcare delivery system has been created to address the gaps in patient care. Mobile Integrated Healthcare Practice and Community Paramedicine (MIH-CP), is an emerging community-based healthcare delivery system utilizing paramedics, along with other community healthcare providers, to go out into the community and serve out-of-hospital patients who are homebound with chronic illness, mental health issues, and non-emergency primary care needs. 24/7 at-home, chronic care, and prevention services are provided.

The idea is to collaborate with local community resources to assess patients’ needs and address social problems. EMS personnel work with local healthcare and social service providers to provide the most appropriate medical and mental health care to underserved patients. Each community will present differently as patient needs will be diverse. This patient-centered model seeks to ease the transition from hospital to home and ensure the patients receive the “right care, by the right provider, at the right place, and at the right cost.”  

Putting It Into Practice

As a Community Paramedic you will be charged with assessing your local community’s needs in order to ensure proper medical care for specific populations. Putting that into practice using an MIH-CP model will require you to:

  • Ensure the program remains patient-centered
  • Create a local operation based on population needs assessments and tools
  • Utilize local providers as partners under physician medical oversight
  • Improve access to quality health care 24 hours a day
  • Deliver evidence-based practice
  • Allow full scope of practice of each provider involved in the multidisciplinary approach to healthcare

Such programs attempt to alleviate the overuse of 911 for psychological and social problems; decrease unnecessary visits to the ED; and decrease or stop repeat ED visits or hospital readmissions that occur because of gaps in continuity of aftercare — hospital to home to primary care follow-up. MIH-CP also helps to alleviate primary care physician shortages in underserved areas.

Pilot programs are popping up all over the country, with 100+ agencies in 33 states. MIH-CP started in rural areas, providing services to patients who could not access healthcare because of distance from medical facilities. Providers are now serving in all types of communities nationwide — urban (54%), suburban (44%), rural (36%), and super rural (13%).

The Mobile Integrated Healthcare Practice is a multi-provider, patient-centered program that is defined by local needs and resources. MIH-CP offers a delivery approach that utilizes and conflates existing resources to address local community needs to enhance medical care and alleviate stress on the current healthcare infrastructure.

If you're interested in becoming Mobile Integrated Healthcare Technician, PCC Insitutute for Health Professionals has launched it's own training program that includes online education, in person skill intensives, and clinicials. Learn more here

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Topics: Healthcare, Emergency Medicine & Critical Care

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